When Donovan Ricketts was swooped up by Orlando City SC as the first player taken Wednesday in the 2014 MLS Expansion Draft, the Portland Timbers lost the player who effectively ushered in the Caleb Porter era in the Rose City.
Ricketts, the 37-year-old Jamaican international goalkeeper, came to Portland in August 2012 in the aftermath of the firing of former head coach John Spencer. Porter had yet to be named Spencer’s successor at the time, but he, along with general manager Gavin Wilkinson, had a hand in the ‘keeper swap that sent Troy Perkins to the Montreal Impact.
And Ricketts had a huge role in Portland’s success in Porter’s first season leading the team, being named the 2013 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year as the Timbers won the Western Conference regular season title and advanced to the conference championship series of the MLS Cup Playoffs. He posted a stellar 0.97 goals per game average that regular season while recording 92 saves in 32 starts.
“I’ve truly enjoyed working with Donovan and appreciate everything he’s invested in our club,” Porter said in a team release. “The offseason continues to go as planned, and it’s a huge positive we will maintain a very strong core and with our depth intact. This allows us to enter the season with continuity and keep building towards a successful 2015.”
Ricketts made 105 saves this past season in the same number of starts, but his production tailed slightly with a 1.375 goals per game average. On Monday, the Timbers announced the acquisition of 26-year-old Ghanaian international Adam Larsen Kwarasey, with Porter saying goalkeeper was a position they had hoped to improve this offseason.
“Donovan has been a top goalkeeper and a first-class professional on and off the field during his time in Portland, and we wish him all the best in the future with Orlando City; he will be missed,” Wilkinson said in the release. “We entered the offseason with a sound strategy and have remained committed to it with our signings and Expansion Draft planning.”